Leg 178 began at 2100 hr (equals Universal Time Coordinated [UTC] minus 3 hr; all times are given in local time except where UTC is indicated) on 5 February 1998 upon the arrival of the JOIDES Resolution at Punta Arenas, Chile, nearly 3.5 days ahead of schedule. The early arrival resulted from a faster-than-expected transit and an earlier-than-planned departure from the last site of Leg 177, owing to the failure of the lower part of the port section of the lower guide horn (LGH).

While the vessel was at anchor, the drilling crew removed the upper guide horn (UGH) and then built a scaffolding in the moonpool area to help remove the starboard section of the LGH. At 0830 hr on 6 February, the ship moved to Muelle Arturo Prat. The starboard section of the LGH was removed, and the broken edge of the port section was beveled. The entire section was then sandblasted, painted, and returned to the vessel, where it was stored on the main deck for reinstallation in Cape Town, South Africa.

Concurrently, divers examined the moonpool area and rudder; their inspection indicated that no damage had occurred as a result of unrestrained LGH movement. In addition, two new motor generators, which were installed in the "Koomey Room" in Cape Town at the beginning of Leg 177, were connected to the 480-V switchboard and brought on-line.

A six-man Tuboscope inspection team attended the port call to inspect the drill pipe that was in the string during the drill-pipe failure at Hole 735B on Leg 176. The pipe was removed from the casing hold of the vessel and placed in a covered customs warehouse at the end of the pier. The team inspected 73 joints of 5-in drill pipe and downgraded one joint because of corrosion. An additional 54 joints of 5.5-in drill pipe were inspected, with three joints failing to pass inspection because of wall loss. Also during this port call, John Boyd of Patterson Coating examined 15 joints of specially treated and marked 5-in drill pipe to assess the effectiveness of different pipe coating materials.

Because Leg 178 was in high latitudes, an ice observer (Andy Caldwell, a consultant contracted by Sedco) was added to the Overseas Drilling Limited (ODL) deck crew. In addition, the Polar Duke was chartered to provide ice detection services and emergency towing capabilities. Through competitive bidding, the Polar Duke was contracted from Rieber Shipping to carry out ice picket boat duties during Leg 178. This vessel was officially accepted on contract in Punta Arenas as of 0000 hr on 9 February. Roberto Laterza, an Italian technician, joined the crew of the Polar Duke to recover a mooring containing two current meters as part of a study conducted by the Osservatorio Geofisico Sperimentale, Trieste.

At 0806 hr on 12 February, the Resolution departed Punta Arenas. The 95-nmi transit through the eastern Straits of Magellan concluded when the pilot left the vessel at 1718 hr on 12 February. The vessel then headed south toward the first site of the leg, Site 1095 (scientific prospectus site APRIS-02A). Initially seas were calm, and it was sunny and surprisingly mild. At noon the next day (Friday the 13th), the weather began to deteriorate as the vessel approached the narrow channel between Isla de los Estados and Tierra del Fuego. As the ship entered Drake Passage, a full gale with wind gusting to 50 kt was in progress. The weather moderated, and we crossed the Antarctic Circle (66°37'S) at noon on 17 February.

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